Sailfin Productions Hayley Butler
Hayley Butler courtesy of Sailfin Productions

Working on a short film at the end of her time in college inspired Sailfin Productions founder Hayley Butler to start her own production company.

It was 2016, the short was called “Cynosure,” and her experience producing, editing, scoring, and acting in it left an impression that still sticks with her to this day.

“I found that I really enjoyed producing and organizing shot lists and schedules and telling stories through the lens,” Butler tells MovieMaker. “I’ve always liked doing it, even when I was a kid. I got my first camera and I made movies with my siblings constantly from the age of 12 or 13 years old.”

Once she got a taste of working on a film set, she fell in love. Butler decided to strike out on her own as a producer, director, and entrepreneur.

“Getting to produce, act, and write the score for a film I was so passionate about was huge for me. It opened my eyes to every part of video storytelling, and it led me to start Sailfin,” she says.

Sailfin Productions Hayley Butler
Sailfin Productions team filming a corporate video in Huntsville, Ontario

Soon after wrapping production on “Cynosure,” she jumped into starting her own business, which today has grown into a commercial production destination for corporate videos, commercials, and promotional videos — as well as post-production work on short films.

Sailfin’s clients include Microsoft, Volkswagen, BDO, TD Bank, and Party City. Its video advertising work has aired locally in Canada and internationally on CNN.

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Earlier this year, Butler edited Matthew Forbes’ “David,” a short film about social advocate David Shannon that was made with help from MovieMaker Production Services.

“We did all of the editing as a team — structuring it out, cutting it, coloring it, and doing all the audio, sound effects, and music. We really did build the whole thing together and it was a lot of fun,” Butler says. “It was exciting for me to see how happy Matthew was and to be part of bringing this incredible true story to life on screen.”

To Forbes, the feeling is mutual.

“Placing a treasured short film into the hands of an editor is always a nerve-wracking process, but Ms. Butler’s extraordinary skill and professionalism made it easy,” Forbes said. “Her leadership in the edit suite seamlessly brought a collection of raw footage to a polished work of art that exceeded my every expectation.”

So far, “David” has become a semi-finalist at both the Dublin Film Festival and the Indie Shorts Fest. Butler looks forward to working on more shorts — and feature films, which would be a new frontier for her.

“I am exceptionally happy to hear from anybody at any level of production or post-production. I am a fellow storyteller and a lover of film and TV, especially indie film,” she says.

“It’s really rewarding when you produce something and see how happy clients are with the results. That’s why I do it and why I go to work every day with a smile — this is what I love. And I know with perseverance, passion, and hard work, you can pretty well overcome any hurdle.”

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This story originally appeared in the Spring 2023 print issue of MovieMaker Magazine.

Main Image: Hayley Butler courtesy of Sailfin Productions